Managing Feline Infectious Peritonitis Symptoms with Prednisone

Feline infectious peritonitis is a viral disease that's generally fatal in cats. Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is caused by a certain strain of the feline coronavirus. Most pets infected with feline coronavirus don't show any signs of the disease. However, due to a mutation of the virus or an aberration of the immune system, the disease progresses and develops into feline infectious peritonitis. FIP exists in either the wet or dry form. The symptoms of dry FIP develop more slowly than those of wet FIP.

Cats Bodily Response to FIP

Once pets are infected with FIP, the virus attacks the cat's white blood cells that in turn transmit the disease to the entire body. An inflammatory reaction is often present in the pet's abdomen, brain and kidney. Cats in the initial stages of FIP don't show clinical symptoms. If the disease progresses, the symptoms can come on unexpectedly as cats tend to mask their discomfort or pain when sick. The symptoms become more severe in the advanced stages of FIP and result in death.

The Symptoms of FIP

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Watery eyes
  • Diarrhea
  • Intestinal disorders
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Fever
  • Depression

Treatment of FIP

There isn't any established treatment to cure pets suffering from FIP. Most vets prescribe medications that help bring relief from the symptoms experienced. Supportive care such as IV fluids, blood transfusions and fluid drainage may be necessary to keep pets more comfortable. FIP treatment also includes corticosteroids, antibiotics and cytotoxic medication. Prednisone is a known synthetic corticosteroid that's used to help pets with FIP.

Managing FIP with Prednisone

Cats require higher doses of prednisone unlike other pets. Like most corticosteroid drugs, prednisone provides quick relief from symptoms of terminal illnesses. Prednisone in low doses effectively soothes inflammatory conditions. High doses of corticosteroids are effective in pets suffering from immune system diseases and cancer.

Risks of Administering Prednisone

Cats that are administered prednisone for over seven days become dependent on the medication. In addition, long term use of prednisone disrupts the body's normal adrenal functioning.

Prednisone has several side effects that may be both short term and long term. Cats may experience excessive thirst and urination, fluid retention, intestinal disorders and vomiting. The long term side effects of prednisone include eye disorders and Cushing's disease.

Prevention of FIP

Current research is trying to develop immunosuppressive drugs that slow disease progression. Pet owners can prevent FIP infection by keeping healthy cats away from diseased pets.

Although there's only one vaccine that isn't very effective to prevent FIP, pets should be given core vaccines on time. Cats should also be kept in clean surroundings and litter boxes kept away from food and water. Titer tests are used to diagnose pets for FIP. Although this test can't be solely relied upon, it helps detect pets that are exposed to the coronavirus.

Pet owners should discuss with their vet, the advantages and disadvantages of vaccinating cats for FIP.